“I love to hear the shofar blast. / Sometimes slow, sometimes fast. / I love to hear the shofar blast. / Happy, happy, happy New Year!” At Albert Einstein Academy, we are happy indeed. In what is now our second week of school, routines are setting in. Rather than indicating rote procedures and predictability, our routines open us up to being amazed. Hearing the shofar is just one example.
We began the Hebrew month of Elul over the weekend. Elul marks the thirty-day period leading up to Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. To help in preparing for the High Holy Day season, we blow the shofar every morning. On the one hand, the shofar blasts become routine; on the other hand, the shofar blasts are an alarm. Already, our students know the names of the different notes (teki’ah = one solid blast; shevarim = one blast broken into three waves; t’ru’ah = nine staccato blasts; and teki’ah gedolah = one long blast). What they also know, though, is that the blasts are meant to wake us up physically and spiritually. Their eyes opened wide with amazement as we discussed how one can hear, feel, and also focus on the shofar blasts.
Wonder, amazement, and sometimes even awe are integral to learning at Albert Einstein Academy. Just as the shofar can inspire us, so too can a science experiment, a walk around the building, and even a handhold. Our everyday learning is designed to make space for surprises and the deeper learning that goes with them.
This week gave our students a chance to find a rhythm to their day. They now know the flow from one block of classes to another. They have experienced most of our specials. They started getting homework. They are engaging with the topics of their first units. And, they have also made mistakes. The amazing thing about forgetting something at home or forgetting an assignment at Einstein is that the forgetting itself is a lesson. Rather than focus on punitive measures, teachers inquire of our students how the student can learn from the error.
Our Gan friends spent this week adjusting to being dropped off out front. Day by day, our students learned to trust that our school is a great place to be and that their grown-ups will be there at the end of the day. I was so pleased to see the happy smiles of our Gan students helping each other enter the building together. Today, every single one of them made it to the door smiling and talking. Amazing progress that only comes from repeating the daily routine.
Speaking of routine, our 4th and 5th graders found their own surprises in class this week. To better learn the vocabulary and to understand accessibility, the 4th grade Hebrew class walked around the building and found all sort of handicap access. Our 5th grade, in their science class, was shocked to learn that rice and gummies have starch. Routine parts of our curricula were brought alive by teachers and students in a way that makes the learning stick. It may sound routine to have gone to class to learn. At Einstein, routine is amazing. We can’t wait for more.